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The Angelic Warfare Confraternity… Protecting Ourselves From The Modern Deluge Of Immoral Material

November 28, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

One of the biggest problems now confronting Catholics — men and boys in particular, but also women and girls to a lesser extent — is the explosion in the availability of pornography. It’s not so long ago that if someone wanted to view pornography they had to go to some effort, be it buying magazines, or videos, or whatever. But now, pornography of all sorts is openly available on the Internet and only a mouse click away.
Apart from that, quite often material which if not fully pornographic is at least salacious or indecent can be seen on TV, and more so in movies; and there is also the matter of billboards and advertising generally, as well as the increasing tendency for immodest dress in society as a whole.
Pornography is by its very nature insidious — and due to the effects of our own sinful inclinations, it is extremely easy for someone to become addicted to viewing it, with disastrous spiritual and practical results. And even if a person doesn’t want to look at this type of material, it is very difficult to avoid its effects as it becomes ever more prominent in society.
What is happening is that we are returning to something like the pagan atmosphere of ancient Rome — but with the difference that there is no need to go to anywhere in order to see anything indecent, but merely to look at your smartphone or laptop.
In the face of all this what can faithful Catholics do to protect themselves from the modern deluge of immoral material?
Various organizations have sprung up to help people with an addiction to pornography and they are doing very good work. But we also need to look to spiritual help, since ultimately, as St. Paul tells us, we are engaged in a type of spiritual warfare with malevolent powers who are doing their utmost to drag us down to their own level (Eph. 6:12).
We have, of course, the sacraments, and particularly Holy Communion and Confession, as ways of growing in holiness — and also of restoring it if lost through sinful behavior; but the Church has also encouraged the use of sacramentals as a means of battling against our sinful tendencies and the assaults of the Devil.
A sacramental which is primarily concerned with preserving purity is bestowed as part of becoming a member of the Confraternity of the Cord of St. Thomas Aquinas.
St. Thomas (1225-1274), who was a Dominican, is renowned as probably the greatest theologian in Church history, and he is also a Doctor of the Church. He is most famous for his monumental Summa Theologiae, which formed the basis for clerical studies in philosophy for centuries. But at the start of his religious life he faced much opposition from his wealthy family, who considered a vocation with the Dominicans as beneath his station in life.
They tried to destroy this vocation by various means including sending a prostitute to his room; but he is said to have snatched up a brand from the fire and driven her away. Toward the end of his life, he confided to a friend that after this event, he knelt and earnestly prayed that God would grant him both bodily and mental chastity.
Having done this, he fell into a mystical sleep, and then two angels appeared to him and girded him with a white girdle, saying, “We gird thee with the girdle of perpetual virginity.” The result was that from that point on he never felt any temptations regarding purity. This girdle or cord is still in existence today, and is kept in the Dominican church at Chieri, near Turin, in Italy.
After St. Thomas’ death, the practice grew up of people wearing a cord in his honor in order that, through his intercession, they might obtain the grace of purity. It also seems that pilgrims visited the church containing the cord of St. Thomas in order to touch their own cords to his cord and pray to him.
In the mid-seventeenth century, a Confraternity of the Cord of St. Thomas was formed at the University of Louvain in Belgium. This involved students and professors wearing the cord, and from there it spread to many other places in Europe. In 1727, this new confraternity was approved by Pope Benedict XIII for the whole Church.
A confraternity is a type of fellowship or brotherhood, in which people come together to pursue a particular religious intention, and in order to be a part of this new confraternity members had to be officially enrolled, and also recite fifteen Hail Marys each day in honor of St. Thomas, and wear the cord, which has fifteen knots, around their waist.
There have also been other such confraternities in existence, including the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Consolation, which is based on a vision to St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine; the Archconfraternity of St. Francis of Assisi; and the Archconfraternity of St. Joseph.
These all involve the wearing of a cord or belt, and in fact, such a practice goes back to ancient times. In the early church, wearing a girdle or cincture was practiced by virgins, and seen as sign of chastity, humility, and mortification.
It is also the case that a number of saints and blesseds, including St. Aloysius Gonzaga and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, have been members of the Confraternity of the Cord of St. Thomas.

Enrollment In
The Confraternity

Fortunately, the tradition of wearing a cord has continued in modern times, and it is possible to be enrolled in what is known as the Angelic Warfare Confraternity. The aim of this confraternity is, under the patronage of our Lady and St. Thomas Aquinas, to promote chastity amongst its members. The term “Angelic Warfare” comes from the manner in which the saint received his girdle.
With the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, in addition to wearing the cord and saying fifteen Hail Marys daily, the enrolled member is also required to say two special prayers daily for chastity. The cord must ideally be blessed by a Dominican priest, but any priest is empowered to do this if necessary.
Being part of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a great help in maintaining chastity, since not only does the person benefit from the prayers of many other confraternity members, but also from the combined merits of the Dominican Order as a whole. And the Confraternity is not just for people who have fallen into sexual sin, or struggle with chastity, but also for those who wish to preserve their chastity.
In the United States, the Angelic Warfare confraternity is administered by the Dominican Province of St. Joseph based in Providence, RI, and more details can be found at: https://www.angelicwarfare
confraternity.org/.
Preserving purity in these turbulent times is difficult, and in the face of assaults from every side, the cord of St. Thomas will undoubtedly be a great help in this ongoing struggle.

+ + +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people, and the third in the series is due to be published next year — details can be seen at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk.)

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